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Indian Horse

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  24,102 ratings  ·  2,829 reviews
Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he’s sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he’ll find it only through telling his story. With him, readers embark on a journey back through the life he’s led as a ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published January 27th 2012 by Douglas McIntyre
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Kayla Fraser I read this book with Gr. 8's, although I did it as a read aloud. This way I could filter some of the language and discuss the sexual abuse in an auth…moreI read this book with Gr. 8's, although I did it as a read aloud. This way I could filter some of the language and discuss the sexual abuse in an authentic way. I did it as part of a unit in LA where we studied the concept of adversity and I thought it was a perfect book to enhance the topic! It also helps students become aware of the direct and generational effects of residential schools in Canada. (less)

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Harry Maier
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for every Canadian. In its story of a survivor of residential schools it takes us through the harrowing experience of First Nations Children in a Manitoban school. In these schools literally tens of thousands children died from physical and sexual abuse, starvation, and treatable disease with the full awareness of the Canadian government. IN my opinion, crimes of this magnitude require nothing short of what Germany has done to take responsibility for the suff ...more
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredibly easy to read but dealt with incredibly difficult topics. I read it for my Canadian Literature course where we've discussed "imagined communities" the concept that the communities that we live in (cities, cultures, nations) are all just made up and perpetuated by successive peoples agreeing to continue that imagination. This is both good (it helps maintain tradition and culture) but also negative, because it can work as selective history in which important things can be i ...more
Angela M (On a little break)
When I started listening to this audiobook, my friend Catherine commented “Hard on the heart but…” I couldn’t agree more. It is definitely hard on the heart, and there are certainly a number of buts that make it so very worth reading. There are many moments in this story that hurt my heart, that made my stomach turn, and there are also moments of love, of caring, of the depth of friendship that did my heart good. There are moments of joy when Saul Indian Horse discovers hockey and many moments o ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is almost impossible if one lives in the United States to be unaware of our border crisis with Mexico. Children separated from their mothers, each sent to a different place, sometimes different states. This story takes place in the sixties and represents another time those in charge. In this case the Catholic Church, thought it was a good and necessary to take Indian children from their parents and wipe out their culture, enforce Christianity. Saul, Indian Horse is only eight when he is taken ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was an honour to read “Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese. As a reader who wants to encourage others to go out and get this important piece of work, I am breaking the rule about reviewers getting personal with the material. As I worked my way through the staggering story of Saul Indian Horse , there was an immediate flooding of memories...his and mine. I was a 6 year old Dutch immigrant who attended a Catholic school in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. At that time, there were Aboriginal children in my ...more
Aug 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wagamese envelopes me into this story. It’s hard to believe this was written in 2012. It’s only been on my radar since all the news of the the recent residential graves have been discovered in Canada.
The reality of Indian children taken from their families to residential schools where they had their culture physically and mentally stamped out of them. The shame we should have as Catholic Canadians.

But there is beauty and magic out of this annihilation of both traditions and spirit. Saul Indian H
Elyse Walters
After recently reading a psychological thriller that left me cold....I wanted to read a meaningful-novel.
And wow....”Indian Horse”, by Richard Wagamese fit the bill.

*Saul Indian Horse* and his family were from the Fish Clan of the northern Ojibway, the ‘Anishinabeg’.
They made their home in the territories along the Winnipeg River, where the river opens wide before crossing into Manitoba, then onto the rugged spine of northern Ontario.

At the start of this novel...Saul - [the adult Saul], was i
Andy Marr
Mar 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was all ready to hand this four stars, but that ending was just so damn beautiful that it seems only right to award full marks.

It's a good while since a book made me cry, but this one did. Just brilliant.
Mar 20, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's only March but I can already guarantee this will be in my top books of 2022. Considering Medicine Walk was my favorite read of 2021, it's safe to say Richard Wagamese is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite authors.

This book made me cry uncontrollably in the end, which has literally never happened before. I think once or twice I've gotten misty-eyed while reading a book, but no book has ever moved me as much as the last 20 pages of this novel.

The story follows Saul Indian Horse, a
This coming of age tale captures some important truths about the hell that a lot of Indian kids went through in the residential school system in Canada, which according to the man who founded the first such school in Pennsylvania in 1879 were designed to “kill the Indian, save the man.” By forcibly taking children away from their families, banning use of their language and cultural practices, they were could theoretically be assimilated for their own good into white society. Instead, most had th ...more
Cathrine ☯️
5 🌠 🌠 🌠 🌠 🌠
Sharing my thoughts about Richard Wagamese’s work deserves much more effort than I can give it. Books come along every now and then that make me think I should return to writing more thoughtful, wholly fleshed reviews. But I just want to read and not think so hard these days.
In these pages we are told that the game of hockey brings out the very best in Saul Indian Horse and this also did the same for this reader.
It is put back in a place of honor on my ‘this is why I read’ shelf.
This is a heartbreaking and tragic story told beautifully by Richard Wagamese. Although fiction, Wagamese pulls from his own experiences and others of the Ojibway Indian tribe, who were taken away from their parents to live in residential Indian schools. In this story, Saul Indian Horse is taken from his grandmother’s arms to live at St. Jerome’s Indian Residential School. He is eight years old. The sufferings that are inflicted on the children are difficult to read, especially as they are based ...more
Sep 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
[4+] If I had known that hockey was central to this novel, I may not have picked it up. But I'm so glad I did. Wagamese writes with grace and truth and I was spellbound by Saul's rocky journey, And yes - by the hockey which was much more than a game to Saul. ...more
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saul Indian Horse is but eight years old when he is literally yanked from the arms of his grandmother and carted off to a church-run residential school. Racism is rampant, abuse out of control. Punishment is dire for any child foolish enough to run away, many were punished, some disappeared, others died. As he tries to make his way, an unexpected introduction to ice hockey ends up being the saving grace for Saul.

The writing is clean and simple, it reads very quickly, and tells a tale both heart
Let me start by saying that I think this book should be mandatory reading for everyone. We meet Saul Indian Horse as an adult as he attempts to put his story down on paper. Richard Wagamese is so effective at putting us right there with Saul- from an 8 year old living with his family, to his time at a residential school and the repercussions on his life.
At the school, the Sister (nun) says, "At St Jerome's we work to remove the Indian from our children so that the blessings of the Lord may be e
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
April 2, 2012:

I begin this book with both eagerness and trepidation. The year is 1961. Saul Indian Horse, Indian boy, is 8 years old. I, little white girl, would have been 7. Inevitably, he and I would have crossed paths as we travelled in different circles over the same land and waters. His home. My home. He feared the residential school. I wanted to go there.

April 3, 2012:

It's true. I wanted to attend the Indian Residential School that my family drove past many, many times on the way to visit
Lia Carstairs
Mar 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-school
For a book we were forced to read in class... not bad. There definitely needs to be more awareness surrounding the injustices Indigenous Peoples and Natives face in this world.

And of course for all minorities too :(

Pre-read Review:

ah, assigned reading :' )
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: apr-18, 5000-books
Richard Wagamese wrote beautifully!
Indian Horse is a heart-breaking and heart-warming story about growing up, racism, community residential schools, survival and hockey.
The author creates a memorable character in Saul Indian Horse. As a child Saul finds himself without his family and in the depths of a residential school. As the reader we are there for every heart-breaking moment as the child tries to survive and understand and finds solace in playing hockey.
A story of unspeakable horrors in the
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
At only 221 pages, the late Richard Wagamese's novel 'Indian Horse' packs a big emotional wallop. As a young boy Saul Indian Horse is placed in a residential boarding 'school ' as part of the Canadian governments plan to fully assimilate indigenous children into Canadian society. Torn from their families, these kids were forbidden to speak their ancestral language, deprived of all their people's cultural influence and forcibly enfranchised. Two-thirds of all schools, including Saul's, were run b ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this quote from grandmother: "We need mystery," she said. "Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility, grandson, is the foundation of all learning. So we do not need to seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever." Pg. 65.

And this paragraph seems to sum up the residential school situation:
"When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you cam
Tara Rock
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We have an extraordinarily gifted Author at work here and my appreciation to friend Jennifer for suggesting this book. The story takes place in Canada, 1960, and focuses on young Native Indians whom the authorities forcefully remove from their parents and place in a boarding school. (Sound familiar?) The inhumane treatment and racism follows a young man throughout his life. One thing, Ice Hockey plays a large role in this story and if you are not a fan of the sport, I guarantee that when you fin ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I wanted to love this more than I did. I was totally absorbed by the story of an Ojibway family trying to keep their children safe from the Canadian government (who was removing first Nations children from their families!) and the journey of Saul Indian Horse into his new (and undesired) life. So I was surprised when half the novel was suddenly a sportsing hockey novel, almost like the author got bored. The slow reveal of sexual abuse felt added in for the wrong reasons and didn't seem to fit. I ...more
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)
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Gut-wrenching and haunting Indian Horse depicts the horrific realities of residential schools, as well as racism and discrimination in 1960s Ontario. This is the third novel that I’ve read by Richard Wagamese and, while Medicine Walk and Ragged Company were no walks in the parks, Indian Horse’s unsparing bleakness and distressing content make those two seem like light reading material. In spite of how upsetting and chilling this story was,
Carmel Hanes
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
"I read once that there are holes in the universe that swallow all light, all bodies. St. Jerome's took all the light from my world. Everything I knew vanished behind me with an audible swish, like the sound a moose makes disappearing into spruce."

"St. Germ's scraped away at us, leaving holes in our beings. I could never understand how the god they proclaimed was watching over us could turn his head away and ignore such cruelty and suffering."

There was so much to like about this book, and so muc
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature 2013. Saul Indian Horse has a broken spirit. As part of his therapy for alcoholism, Saul recounts his personal story. It is filled with trauma, racism, and abuse. He was orphaned at a young age and placed at St.Jerome’s Indian Residential School—a horrible place. The arrival of Father Leboutilier introduced Saul to the game of hockey. It provides solace to his soul. But as Saul’s opportunities increase due to his talent, so does the racial ...more
"But if I learned anything while I was at the centre, it's that you reclaim things the most when you give them away."

"I understood then that when you miss a thing it leaves a hole that only the thing you miss can fill."

Saul Indian Horse is in trouble, and there seems to be only one way out. As he journeys back through his life as a northern Ojibway, from the horrors of residential school to his triumphs on the hockey rink, he must question everything he knows. In INDIAN HORSE, author Richard Wa
Betsy Robinson
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a fast 221 pages, but I feel as if I’ve been through a life marathon. Young Saul Indian Horse starts life with a loving family: “My people are from the Fish Clan of the northern Ojibway . . .” living in northern Ontario, Canada. We follow him from his family’s attempt to escape having their children stolen by the government, to his life at the mercy of the monstrous Catholic Church folk in a horrific Indian school, to a brief but elegiac escape into playing ice hockey, to . . . Well, ...more
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I’d heard of *Indian Horse* from CBC’s “Canada Reads” competition and from a few fellow readers who told me it was about residential schools and the crimes committed there. So I picked up the novel prepared to encounter a narrative of abuse and its reverberations across generations.

I suppose that feeling of preparation is indicative of my arrogance - my sense that ‘oh yes, i’ve heard about residential schools, I have leftist politics, I’ve been educated’ - as if a textbook could do justice (ha!
George Ilsley
A beautiful and harrowing book. Random fact— I picked this out of a bookshelf to borrow, and then, later that night, the author died. It took me quite a while after that to start reading.

It is a major achievement to write about hockey in a way that can engage this reader and yet this novel succeeds. It succeeds on many levels — and yet what is success except surviving? And what does surviving mean, if it only lasts so long?

The movie is harrowing and depressing; the novel is somehow more intens
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an incredible story of childhood trauma, of crushing prejudice, and of the hopeful journey to healing. A young man, recovering from alcoholism, recounts his life story, the events that brought him to the place of seeking oblivion in alcohol: the physical, sexual and emotional abuse suffered in the Indian schools, the promised escape in hockey, the relentless and devastating prejudice of white fans and other players, and the strength given by the communities of the ancestors and living fr ...more
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Richard Wagamese was one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. He worked as a professional writer since 1979. He was a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of twelve titles from major Canadian publishers.


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“We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”

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